VIDEO – In San Francisco, an era is ending. The last remaining kosher grocery store is closing. In a time of big box stores and changing demographics, a locally-owned kosher grocery is a vanishing business.
"Israel's Strictly Kosher" is like a trip back to the old country. It sells homemade pastries and latkes, and a wide variety of all types of kosher grocery items.
It first opened in 1949 and changed hands several times over the years. At one point it served as a live poultry market, where customers could choose the chicken they wanted and have it slaughtered right in the store. But a lot has changed since then.
Faina Avrutina plans to close the store in March, after running it for 10 years. A native of Ukraine, she's worked many long hours to keep this pillar of the local Jewish community afloat.
Located just steps from the Golden Gate bridge, this San Francisco neighborhood is known for its Russian Jewish population.
Faina does every job at "Israel's Kosher" – from cutting the meat to cooking Russian style chicken cutlets for customers.
There isn't much business here, but loyal customers still trickle in for Faina's from-scratch cooking and personal service.
Faina's daughter, Maya, says that the store has served as a place of Jewish pride for Ukrainian or Russian immigrants who grew up during World War II and had to hide their religion for fear of persecution.
But there aren't that many members of that generation left. And big-box stores have made it impossible for "Israel's Kosher" to stay alive
The big stores also could get better prices from suppliers. "Israel's Kosher" had increasing wholesale prices that also drove it to close.
While the San Francisco bay area still has kosher groceries in nearby Oakland and San Jose, San Francisco will be without its own when Faina closes the doors.
San Franciscans will have to use the growing chain stores for their kosher needs. As for Faina, she hopes to make a transition to kosher catering.